Thursday Jan 31, 2019
Maurizio Sarri questioned his ability to motivate Chelsea's spluttering stars after their humiliating 4-0 defeat at Bournemouth on Wednesday.
The shocking result at Dean Court ranked as Chelsea's biggest league defeat for 22 years and was their fifth loss in the last 12 Premier League games.
The Blues have dropped out of the top four — below Arsenal on goals scored — to leave their bid to qualify for the Champions League under severe threat.
And Chelsea boss Sarri, who publicly questioned his side's approach after the recent defeat at Arsenal, conducted a lengthy post-match inquest alone with his players after asking his backroom staff to leave the dressing room.
The Italian maintained he does not feel under pressure but admitted the blame for the defeat could lie with himself.
"In that moment I wanted to talk with them alone, without anybody else," he said.
"I needed to understand. It's impossible to play in such a different way between the first and second half.
"I don't understand why. I don't know exactly. I want to try again tomorrow because we want to solve the problem.
"I think (the players are good enough). Maybe we are not at the top of the Premier League at the moment, but we are competitive.
"We cannot lose 4-0 against Bournemouth. I want to respect Bournemouth, but it's impossible to lose 4-0 here.
"Maybe it's my fault, maybe I'm not able to motivate them. But the team is very strong, it is also able to win without the coach."
Sarri is facing growing questions about his tactics and motivational ability just half-way through his first season in charge.
And the former Napoli boss admitted he is starting to get annoyed by Chelsea's inconsistency.
"I feel frustrated. Not under pressure. I didn't see the signal of my work. So I am frustrated," he said.
Chelsea dominated long periods of the first half but after conceding Joshua King's opening goal in the 47th minute, they had no response as David Brooks doubled the lead in the 63rd minute.
King added a second eleven minutes later, and Charlie Daniels headed the fourth in stoppage-time.
"What I saw in the first half, there was the possibility to solve the problem," Sarri said.
"We had 43 minutes still to play, so we could solve the problem. But not with that kind of reaction.
"At the moment, they are able to react very well always against a big team. When we play against a big team, usually we are able to play with a very good level of motivation.
"In the first half, I saw a team with a very good level of motivation and determination. Then, suddenly after the first goal, we were not able to play."
The withdrawal of Gonzalo Higuain in the 64th minute prompted chants of 'you don't know what you're doing' from the Chelsea supporters.
Sarri said: "We have only to say sorry to our fans. We can lose, of course, in every match, but not in this way.
"We need to solve the problem. We need to understand where the problem is."
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe revealed his side's game-plan was to put pressure on Jorginho, Chelsea's deep-lying midfielder.
"It was something we looked at and planned and David did a brilliant job beyond his years with his diligence, and then he showed his class at the other end as well, so I'm pleased for him," Howe said.
"We just knew they'd have more of the ball than we would. They've got world-class players, technically.
"The way their manager plays the game is great to watch. We had to ride that storm, really.
"The way we dealt with Hazard, Pedro, Higuain, getting bodies around the ball, tracking runners. We just managed to frustrate them."